Joanne Dittes Yepsen
Saratoga County Supervisor for Saratoga Springs
Principal of Critical Needs Now
Joanne Dittes Yepsen has been working in the area of development and marketing with nonprofits for over 25 years. She served as Director of Public Events and the Director of Trustee Affairs and College Events in the Development Office and, subsequently in the Office of the President at Skidmore College from 1985 – 2001.
In the spring of 2001, Joanne launched her own business, COLTIVARE, to assist non-profit organizations in the areas of capital and annual campaign planning, board development, internal and external assessment, strategic planning and event fund raising. Some clients include the Saratoga Hospital Foundation, Lake George Opera Company, the Saratoga Independent School, and Association for Retarded Citizens (Saratoga Bridges), YADDO, Lake George Land Conservancy, the Prevention Council of Saratoga County and Buxton School in Williamstown, Mass.
In 2011, Joanne merged forces with business partner Ruth Fein Wallens to create Critical Needs Now, best known for producing a state-wide annual International Women’s Day in Albany on March 8 and completion of the Wakonda Lodge restoration at Wiawaka on Lake George, the oldest women’s retreat center in the country.
Practicing what she preaches, Joanne has held extensive leadership volunteer positions in the community. She served as Vice President of Saratoga PLAN (Preserving Land and Nature), formerly the Open Space Project of Saratoga; on the Board of the Saratoga County Arts Council, where she served two years as President of the Board; the Presbyterian New England Congregational Church; and the Saratoga Care Foundation. She also served as President of the Women’s Press Club of New York State and taught a curriculum that Joanne designed at the Adirondack Community College entitled Stimulating Growth for Non-Profit Organizations. She is a 1980 graduate of Hartwick College, and is a proud member of the 1993 graduating class of the Saratoga Leadership Program.
Joanne was endorsed by three political parties and ran for her first elected official position in the fall of 2005. She was re-elected as County Supervisor for Saratoga Springs successfully in 2007, 2009, and 2011 and is currently serving her fourth term. Her priorities for the past eight years have included open government, protecting and enhancing the horse racing industry, regular constituency service and bi-partisan problem solving. People in Saratoga Springs describe Joanne as being out all the time with the people and genuinely caring about making their lives better.
Running on an open government and increased transparency platform, Joanne hosts regular open meetings for her constituents, reports to members of the public and City Council, sought after and secured grant money to sponsor Sunshine Week programs since the inception of her public service to educate and entice more members of the public to get involved and participate in the governmental process, offers an interactive web site, has mailed electronic newsletters –The Yepsen Report — to thousands of people in the region, and co-founded several citizen organization to advance issues important to residents and visitors.
Other priorities as Supervisor include launching Sustainable Saratoga, a grassroots volunteer task force now effectively impacting policy on the City level, taking care of our veterans by restoring a Veterans War Memorial in Congress Park, leading the Guardian House for Homeless Women Veterans effort, starting the New York Coalition for Women Veterans and securing funding for veterans programs and additional services as well as a key participant in the Saratoga County Veterans Committee and Affairs. In addition to keeping military personnel at the top of her list, Joanne advocated for the preservation of the Saratoga Racetrack and assisted in starting two organizations affiliated with the Race Track – Saratoga Race Track Preservation Coalition and Thorofan, an organization giving the fans a voice has been a priority.
Supervisor Yepsen is also known for bringing in new funding support for our community for non-profits including initiating the first Grants-to-You eastern chapter; striving for an appropriate balance of open space and smart growth through the County Green Infrastructure planning; working with small businesses, such as Beekman Street historic district to create a long range business plan and; many other programs dealing with cultural organizations, seniors and youth.
She resides in Saratoga Springs with her three children: Emma 26, a University of Vermont Public Communications graduate currently employed as On-line Content News Manager for WTEN (Albany’s ABC affiliate); Laura 23, a recent graduate from Bryant University employed at Target headquarters Leadership Training Program in Minneapolis, and Cole 17, an accomplished musician, rower and an incoming Senior at Saratoga Springs High School.